Paper for Intercultural Communication

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How society tames our desire to know?

With fast development of media technology, this is never the time of panel scarcity, and we have stepped into an era of overloaded information. Therefore it seems to be accepted as reality that audiences are acquiring more freedom to choose/decide what they need/want even make media products themselves.

That is superficially right while the hidden agenda set by others never disappear. That is to say, what people interest in is not always out of self willingness, but instead, is being influenced or set up by others. Then what’s the operational mechanism supporting the hidden tame process of society?

Of course Media is not the only way for people to get to know the world, however, this has become an indispensible choice. Beginning with media is easier for us get to know the whole topic: how society tames our desire to know?

I come up with 3 aspects in answering this question.

First, Society tames our desire to know by utilizing a psychological mechanism-Spiral of Silence.

When talking about pop culture, there is often a premise that the so-called “pop” should be something accepted by most of people. Thus, whether or not being included in the scope of “pop” can lead to a group clarification. This may result in the phenomenon that when confronting with choice between “pop” and alternatives, people tend to choose the former one so as to gaining a valid position in the pop camp, or called majority. This can be sometimes defined as peer pressure which leads us being obedient to mainstream.

There is a mass Communication theory called “the spiral of silence” which is quite similar with the phenomenon I mentioned above. Spiral of silence theory describes the process by which one opinion becomes dominant as those who perceive their opinion to be in the minority do not speak up because they fear isolation from society.

It is more understandable when we using “spiral of silence” theory to explain the phenomenon in the functional perspective. In a classic functional model, tension comes out as the cause for adjustment-structured activity, so as to get homeostasis. When our opinion is not the same with the dominant/majority, fear of being excluded is aroused which is the TENSION breaking our HOMEOSTASIS situation. Thus we have to take actions (STRUCTURED ACTIVITY), such as agreeing with dominant opinion and keeping silence instead of raising our own opinions, to become unified with the mainstream for the purpose of being involved and removing fears (back to HOMEOSTATIS).

Take a simple and normal example. Everyone is getting a smart phone nowadays. During waiting or transportation time, people do nothing but playing with their smart phones. It has become part of modern culture and those with traditional phones tend to be defined as out-of-date ones. Since smart phones related topics are ubiquitous and not being a user or owner of smart phones means you are not included/welcomed in such discussion during which process, you are exiled and your fear of being isolated is definitely coming true. Consequently, people are inclined to buy a smart phone to catch the popularity and be involved in the pop cultural discourse. In this case, we can easily find out how society/“pop tendency” influence our purchasing behavior and consumption choices.

When considering this in the scope of intercultural communication, there is a related concept-uncertainty avoidance culture. To a large extent, mass culture is taming our taste and leads to a tendency of pursing uniformity, hence result in less cultural variety. This is definitely true. Albeit disappointing, we are living with more consonance.

When taking a first look at it, we may feel weird, especially in today’s modern society-since more and more information sources are submerging us, why do we face a narrowing of opinion rather than more variety? However, it is not hard to explain. Information channels increase with accompanying of...
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